Community Law Center

Lawyers for Neighborhoods & Nonprofits

Booze News: Distilled in Room 215

A blog about the Baltimore City Liquor Board

What happened at the Liquor Board on July 17, 2014.

July 23, 2014

Hearings began promptly at 11:00am. Judge Ward and Commissioners Moore and Jones were present. Cases are listed below in the order in which they were heard, not in the order listed on the docket.

11:00 a.m. cases

Changes to the Docket / Requests for Postponements

The following two cases were pulled from the docket for the day, because the “applicants had submitted all documents that were required and the license is now operational:”

  • Paul Ernst & Tim Ernst, 2933 O’Donnell Street, LLC T/a Shiso Tavern, 2933 O’Donnell Street – Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License – Review of a transfer pending for more than 180 days (add live entertainment)
  • Adam Rather & David Rather, Mother’s Federal Hill Grill, Inc. T/a Mother’s Federal Hill Grill, 1113 S. Charles Street – Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License – Review of a transfer pending for more than 180 days (add live entertainment)
    • Requests for Postponements from Applicants and Community Groups

      Applicants Norman & Barbara Greenspun, Ray King
      Business Name F.P. Fifty-Five Corporation
      Trading As Frazier’s on the Avenue
      Address 917-19 W. 36th Street
      Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
      Reason for hearing Review of a transfer pending for more than 180 days (add live entertainment)
      Hearing notes

      The Executive Secretary informed the Board that the agency had received a request from the licensees to withdraw their request for live entertainment; therefore, no hearing was necessary.

      Zoning B-2-2
      Neighborhood Hampden
      Area demographics 77% White, 12% Black, 5% Asian; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 18% households have children under age 18; median household income: $54,278
      Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
      Location of entity’s principal office 851 W. 36th St, Baltimore, MD 21211
      Attorney for licensee None
      # in support 0
      Attorney for community None
      # of protestants 0
      # of inspectors 0
      Result of hearing Case removed from docket.
      Vote tally Unanimous
      Portions of state law cited in decision None
      Other reasons given for decision None
      Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
      Disclaimer Becky Lundberg Witt, staff attorney for Community Law Center and blogger for Booze News, represented the community association involved in this case.
      Applicants Raj Bommakanti & William Ely
      Business Name Radharaj, Inc.
      Trading As Trade name pending
      Address 1615 Eastern Avenue
      Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
      Reason for hearing Application to transfer location of a Class “BD7”BWL license presently located at 1709 Fleet Street to 1615 Eastern Avenue
      Hearing notes

      Mr. Abraham Hurdle informed the Board that his client is out of the country and would be gone for several weeks. He asked for an indefinite postponement. Ms. Witt, for the Douglass Place Neighborhood Association (DPNA) agreed to the postponement.

      Commissioner Moore asked, “can it not be an indefinite postponement?” Mr. Hurdle explained that his client wants to amend his application and needs some time to do it. Judge Ward agreed with Commissioner Moore that the case should be set back in within 90 days.

      Zoning B-2-2
      Neighborhood Fells Point
      Area demographics 70% White, 8% Black, 5% Asian; 15% Hispanic ethnicity; 11% households have children under age 18; median household income: $69,105; 11% households live below the poverty line
      Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; no.
      Location of entity’s principal office 16402 Signature Ct, Rockville, MD
      Attorney for licensee Mr. Abraham Hurdle
      # in support 0
      Attorney for community Ms. Becky Lundberg Witt
      # of protestants 0
      # of inspectors 0
      Result of hearing Postponed
      Vote tally Unanimous
      Portions of state law cited in decision None
      Other reasons given for decision None
      Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
      Applicant Sanjiv Suri & Ronald Sokal
      Business Name Suri Jatin, Inc.
      Trading As M & J Discount Liquors
      Address 5500 Park Heights Avenue
      Type of License Class “A” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
      Reason for hearing

      Violation of Rule 4.10(a): “No licensee shall purchase alcoholic beverages except from a duly licensed manufacturer or wholesaler; nor shall any licensee sell to any other licensee any alcoholic beverages; and no licensee shall, at any time, keep or permit to be kept upon the licensed premises, any alcoholic beverages unless purchased in accordance with the Rule” (Re: On March 31, 2014, Agents from the Office of the Comptroller found 49 bottles of alcohol in the establishment identified as having come from a stolen alcohol shipment)

      Violation of Rule 3.03(a): “Licensees shall keep accurate records of all purchases of alcoholic beverages for a period of one year from the date of each purchase. Such records shall include the date of each purchase, the quantity purchased, and the name and address of each seller. Such records shall be open for inspection at all times by duly authorized representative of the Board (Re: On March 31, 2014, licensee was unable to provide records for purchases of 49 bottles of 3.75 ml of Hennessy Cognac)

      Hearing notes

      Mr. Kodenski appeared on behalf of his clients, the licensees. He informed the Board that a criminal case is pending on this issue and requested a postponement so that his clients would not have to invoked their 5th amendment rights against self-incrimination. Kodenski stated that the arraignment for the case is scheduled for August 4.

      Zoning B-2-2
      Neighborhood Arlington
      Area demographics 2% White, 94% Black, 0% Asian, 1% Hispanic ethnicity; 63% households have children under age 18; median household income: $28,815.
      Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
      Location of entity’s principal office 1148 E. North Ave, Baltimore, MD 21202
      Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
      # in support 0
      Attorney for community None
      # of protestants 0
      # of inspectors 0
      Result of hearing Postponed
      Vote tally Unanimous
      Portions of state law cited in decision None
      Other reasons given for decision None
      Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
      Applicant Gurpreet Sandhu
      Business Name #1 Discount Liquors, Inc.
      Trading As Saratoga Discount Liquor
      Address 211 W. Saratoga Street
      Type of License Class “A” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
      Reason for hearing Violation of Rule 4.10: “No licensee shall purchase alcoholic beverages except from a duly licensed manufacturer or wholesaler; nor shall any licensee sell to any other licensee any alcoholic beverages; and no licensee shall, at any time, keep or permit to be kept upon the licensed premises, any alcoholic beverages unless purchased in accordance with the Rule” (Re: On March 13, 2014, Agents from the Office of the Comptroller found a bottle of alcohol in the establishment that was inventory purchased by another licensed establishment)
      Hearing notes

      No one was present on either side of this case. Mr. Gary Maslan, the licensee’s attorney, had submitted a letter to the Board requesting a postponement, because he is out of the country.

      Judge Ward was visibly frustrated that Mr. Maslan would be out of the country during his Liquor Board case, and he said, “in the future, I don’t want to postpone cases” for this reason.

      Zoning B-4-2
      Neighborhood Downtown
      Area demographics 39% White, 37% Black, 16% Asian, 3% 2 or more races; 5% Hispanic ethnicity; 9% of households have children under age 18; Median Household Income: $38,146; 18% households live below poverty line
      Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
      Location of entity’s principal office 215 W. Saratoga St, Baltimore, MD
      Attorney for licensee Mr. Gary Maslan (not present)
      # in support 0
      Attorney for community None
      # of protestants 0
      # of inspectors 0
      Result of hearing Postponed
      Vote tally Unanimous
      Portions of state law cited in decision None
      Other reasons given for decision None
      Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
      Applicant Ryan Perlberg
      Business Name Shot Tower, LLC
      Trading As Willow
      Address 811 S. Broadway
      Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
      Reason for hearing Review of a transfer pending for more than 180 days (add live entertainment)
      Hearing notes

      Mr. Kodenski appeared on behalf of the licensee and informed the Board that his client is withdrawing his application to add live entertainment.

      Zoning B-3-2
      Neighborhood Fells Point
      Area demographics 70% White, 8% Black, 5% Asian; 15% Hispanic ethnicity; 11% households have children under age 18; median household income: $69,105; 11% households live below the poverty line
      Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
      Location of entity’s principal office 811 S. Broadway, Baltimore, MD
      Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
      # in support 0
      Attorney for community None
      # of protestants 0
      # of inspectors 0
      Result of hearing Removed from docket
      Vote tally Unanimous
      Portions of state law cited in decision None
      Other reasons given for decision None
      Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None

      Status of License

      Applicant Estate of Jeffrey Gordon
      Business Name None provided in docket
      Trading As Gordon’s Bar & Grill
      Address 1818 Maryland Avenue
      Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
      Reason for hearing Request to determine the status of a license under the provisions of Article 2B Section 10-504(d)
      Hearing notes

      A personal representative of Mr. Jeffrey Gordon’s estate appeared and requested that the license at 1818 Maryland Avenue be renewed. The license had not been renewed this year due to the “illness and untimely death” of Mr. Gordon. Mr. Gordon’s girlfriend is the beneficiary of his estate, and he was survived by a minor child. Mr. Gordon’s girlfriend wants to keep the license active in order to generate revenue for the child until he or she reaches the age of 18.

      Mr. Alan Mlinarchik from the Charles North Community Association testified in opposition to the renewal. He stated that the establishment had been a big problem for the community over the years. There was a triple shooting there in October 2011, and April 17, 2012 was the last promotion of any event at the address. Mlinarchik argued that, since there had been nearly 2 1/2 years since any activity had taken place at the establishment, the “license should expire.”

      Zoning B-5-2
      Neighborhood Charles North
      Area demographics 53% White, 32% Black, 8% Asian, 3% 2 or more races; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 6% households have children under age 18; median household income: $38,331; 5.5% households live below poverty line.
      Does corp entity exist, in good standing? None provided in docket
      Location of entity’s principal office None provided in docket
      Attorney for licensee None
      # in support 1
      Attorney for community None
      # of protestants 1
      # of inspectors 0
      Result of hearing License is expired.
      Vote tally Unanimous
      Portions of state law cited in decision None
      Other reasons given for decision Judge Ward stated that the Board is not in the business of providing estate protections, adding, “when you come before the LB, you must comply with the law.”
      Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None

      Review of transfers/amendments to licenses pending for more than 180 days

      Applicant Steven Blatterman
      Business Name Pane e Vino, Inc.
      Trading As Anche
      Address 408 S. High Street
      Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
      Reason for hearing Review of an transfer pending for more than 180 days
      Hearing notes

      Ms. Leanne Schrecengost represented the applicants. She requested additional time, on behalf of her clients, to complete the checklist of required tasks. She described the history of the transfer application: it was originally submitted at the end of 2012 and was set in for hearing in January 2013. The Board approved the transfer on May 30, 2013. However, in the time period between January and May, the applicants lost their funding due to the Board’s slowness. When the Board finally approved transfer in May 2013, the applicant was forced to start the financing process again. The applicants did not apply for their work permits from Baltimore City Housing to begin renovations on the property until November 2013; the permits were finally approved in July 2014, after many additional visits and new drawings. Ms. Schrecengost explained that the applicants’ previous counsel had dropped the ball on following up with zoning and the Liquor Board.

      Ms. Blatterman testified that they “have been working religiously” and that they expect to be ready to open by the beginning of September. They asked for an extension of time until December 2014.

      Zoning B-3-2
      Neighborhood Little Italy
      Area demographics 58% Black, 29% White, 5% Asian; 7% Hispanic ethnicity; 29% of households have children under age 18; Average household income: $30,550.74; 35% households below the poverty line
      Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
      Location of entity’s principal office 408 S High St, Baltimore, MD
      Attorney for licensee Ms. Leanne Schrecengost
      # in support 2
      Attorney for community None
      # of protestants 0
      # of inspectors 0
      Result of hearing 180 day hardship extension approved
      Vote tally Unanimous
      Portions of state law cited in decision None
      Other reasons given for decision None
      Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed

      As laid out in a previous Booze News post, the Board does not have the authority to grant hardship extensions for license transfers under Article 2B section 10-503. The statute is clear: “a transfer of any license shall be completed not more than 180 days” after approval. The Board even requested and received an Attorney General’s opinion on the subject, which stated that transfers expire if they are not completed within the 180 days. There are no hardship extension provisions in Article 2B for transfers; it is unclear why the new Board thought that it had the power to grant more time. The Board did not discuss Article 2B section 10-503 or the Attorney General’s opinion while they deliberated.

      To quote from the previous post: when the statute says, “a transfer of any license SHALL be completed not more than 180 days” after the Board approves it, the Board has no authority to give hardship extensions past the 180 days. The opinion points out that “while the statute does not expressly state it as a consequence, it seems clear that if the transfer ‘shall be completed’ within 180 days, it cannot be completed after that date, indicating that the consequence is the lapsing of the authority for the transfer.”

      Applicant Robert Makarovich & Jamie Makarovich
      Business Name Robjam, Inc.
      Trading As Clipper Mill Inn
      Address 1619 Union Avenue
      Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
      Reason for hearing Review a transfer pending for more than 180 days (add live entertainment)
      Hearing notes

      The licensee, Mr. Robert Makarovich, appeared on his own behalf.

      Judge Ward asked why Mr. Makarovich had not finished the steps necessary to provide live entertainment. The licensee replied, “It’s been on the back burner and I haven’t been trying to complete it.” He testified that he is only intending to have karaoke one night per week.

      Commissioner Moore pointed out that Mr. Makarovich had submitted his application for live entertainment on October 4, 2011, almost three years before. The Board reviewed his progress in 2013 and gave him an additional 60 days.

      Zoning M-2-1
      Neighborhood Hampden
      Area demographics 77% White, 12% Black, 5% Asian; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 18% households have children under age 18; median household income: $54,278
      Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; no
      Location of entity’s principal office 1619 Union Ave, Baltimore, MD
      Attorney for licensee None
      # in support 1
      Attorney for community None
      # of protestants 1
      # of inspectors 0
      Result of hearing Hardship extension denied.
      Vote tally Unanimous
      Portions of state law cited in decision None
      Other reasons given for decision Judge Ward stated, “These decisions mean what they say; it’s time for people to start obeying them.”
      Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
      Applicant Spiros Korologos, Steven Fortinos & Eric Matis
      Business Name Alogos, Inc.
      Trading As The Horse You Came in On
      Address 1626-28 Thames Street
      Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
      Reason for hearing Review of a transfer pending for more than 180 days (request to add 1628 Thames Street for business)
      Hearing notes

      Mr. Peter Prevas, attorney, represented the applicants, who were all present, along with a manager.

      Mr. Joel Plitt, of Ruhf Plitt Architects and the architect for project, testified about the extensiveness of the project and the renovations. The application was filed with the Liquor Board in 2012; the licensees sought a variance from zoning to do an addition on the back of the building, they received approval from the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP), and they met with community groups. Mr. Plitt testified that the buildings are architecturally significant, that they were built in the 1750s and have been well-maintained. There was a lot of remediation work that needed to be done in order to restore the building, including structural work as well as refinishing, replacing and repairing windows. The building has been continually used as a tavern for almost two hundred years.

      Judge Ward asked about problems with BG&E, which were discussed in previous hearings. Mr. John Bergersen, project manager for the general contractor on the project, testified that BG&E required the applicants to resubmit their drawings and plans. Mr. Plitt said that the electrical system in Fells Point is different from other neighborhoods and that BG&E changed the rules for consolidating two buildings. The licensees’ engineers ended up designing three completely different systems to suit BG&E’s demands. Bergersen added that the electrical issues have been fixed, as of the previous Tuesday. They just need to finish a few last inspections and they’ll be done. They have been diligent in pursuing the project; no one had dropped the ball.

      Ms. Joanne Masopust, community member and president of the Fells Point Community Organization then testified on the applicants’ behalf. She stated that, originally, FPCO was concerned about the project, because, after the expansion, the occupancy of the bar would almost double to be over 250 people, which is a large establishment in the Fells Point area. On behalf of her organization, she met with licensee for two hours and talked with him about her concerns. Her first concern was that the bar has a pretty low percentage of income from food sales, which she would like to see increase. She was impressed, however, that the manager currently has three security officers present on weekends and will add two more when the expanded building opens. They will use headsets to communicate between the two buildings. She added that the bar has been run in a responsible manner. They do not operate as a party but as a business. She also talked with neighbors, including the owner of a neighboring retail establishment, Beth Hawks, who owns a boutique called Zelda Zen. Hawks, according to Masopust, is a “refugee from what happened on Cross Street” in Federal Hill. She has recently relocated to Thames Street in Fells Point and speaks very highly of the licensee. Masopust remarked, “I don’t think she would have done that if what she was saying wasn’t true. She would have been the first one to tell me what a nightmare things had been if there were a nightmare.” The licensee has gone beyond what he was required to do and has kept all of the conditions in the Memorandum of Understanding that he signed with the Fells Point Residents’ Association (FPRA). She concluded by saying, “if he’s run a good operation at 1626, we should give him a chance to open at 1628.” She reminded the Board that she does have some concerns about the size of the place and suggested that perhaps the Board would want to review the place after a year or so.

      Zoning B-3-2
      Neighborhood Fells Point
      Area demographics 70% White, 8% Black, 5% Asian; 15% Hispanic ethnicity; 11% households have children under age 18; median household income: $69,105; 11% households live below the poverty line
      Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
      Location of entity’s principal office 1626 Thames St, Baltimore, MD
      Attorney for licensee Mr. Peter Prevas
      # in support ~7
      Attorney for community None
      # of protestants 0
      # of inspectors 0
      Result of hearing Extension granted.
      Vote tally Unanimous
      Portions of state law cited in decision None
      Other reasons given for decision None
      Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed

      This case raises the same issue as the 408 S. High Street case, above. The Board simply does not have the authority to grant extra time to complete a transfer under Article 2B section 10-503. For more on section 10-503, please see the Booze News post on the topic.

      Applicant Kenneth Kirby
      Business Name Pho Main, Inc.
      Trading As Mat Jip Restaurant
      Address 2101-03 Maryland Avenue
      Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
      Reason for hearing Review of a transfer pending for more than 180 days (add live entertainment)
      Hearing notes

      Former Executive Secretary Sam Daniels represented the two licensees as a “consultant.” Mr. Daniels reviewed the timeline of the application: on December 4, 2013, the licensees submitted an application for live entertainment. He asked the Board to grant an extension of time so that they can complete the repair and replacement of their ceiling tiles. Daniels noted that the corporate entity is not in good standing and promised to address the issue that after afternoon.

      After some confusion with finding the correct file, Judge Ward said to the current Executive Secretary, Michelle Bailey-Hedgepeth, “I hope in the future I’ll get these cases ahead of time so that I can review them.”

      The Board’s attention then turned to the good standing of the corporate entity. Mr. Daniels reiterated, “that will be addressed today. The issue would reside with the resident agent, who is an attorney and who had not notified these gentlemen of the good standing notice. They weren’t aware until I spoke with them the other day.” Judge Ward responded, “you’re coming in here today out of sorts and not having complied, and also your taxes are not in good standing. I’m not receiving any testimony as to when all these things will not be corrected. You get a notice to come in; the issue is whether we should or shouldn’t grant an extension. You have all these other issues preventing you from telling us that everything is in order.” Mr. Daniels replied, “I know that the ceiling is being replaced as we speak. I was told before this hearing began that they were going to SDAT after this hearing.” Judge Ward asked “why didn’t you [go to SDAT] yesterday?” Daniels said, “that’s a good question.” Judge Ward asked Mr. Kirby, who was present at the hearing, whether he had the money to pay his back taxes, and Mr. Kirby replied that he did not.

      Attempting to smooth over the issue, Mr. Daniels said, “we are colliding, probably to the good, between the old policies and the new policies of the Liquor Board.” Ward quickly cut in and said, “new policies?! Doing what you’re supposed to do?” Daniels explained, “in the past, licensees were not held to the same stringent standard as now.” Ward pushed back, saying that Mr. Kirby “hasn’t got the money to pay the taxes. I mean, I’m supposed to be convinced that something’s going to happen miraculously?” Daniels replied that the ceiling is currently being fixed. Ward pointed out that it hasn’t been approved or inspected by Baltimore City housing. Daniels agreed but noted that an inspection can be rescheduled within 24 hours. He said, “I would ask, since this is just outside the original six months, that they be afforded a small amount of time to complete their renovations. … Please, grant them a little courtesy here.”

      Mr. Alan Mlinarchik, for the Charles Village Civic Association’s land use committee, testified that three community associations had negotiated a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the licensee, operators, and the property owner. The community associations support the extension to allow the licensees to finish their work on the building. He added that the establishment has taken over a position on the block that used to be dominated by prostitution, drug use and drug sales. They’ve given life to the corner.

      After the hearing was over and the decision given, Commissioner Moore said to the licensee, Mr. Kirby: “I think people should come dressed respectful of the process. I don’t think it’s respectful to come dressed with holes in your t-shirt. I think it is extremely disrespectful of this body. I just have to say that. We deserve more.”

      Zoning B-2-3
      Neighborhood Charles North
      Area demographics 53% White, 32% Black, 8% Asian, 3% 2 or more races; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 6% households have children under age 18; median household income: $38,331; 5.5% households live below poverty line
      Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
      Location of entity’s principal office 2101-03 Maryland Avenue, Baltimore, MD
      Attorney for licensee None, but Mr. Samuel Daniels represented the licensee as a “consultant.”
      # in support 3
      Attorney for community None
      # of protestants 0
      # of inspectors 0
      Result of hearing Extension approved for 60 days
      Vote tally Unanimous
      Portions of state law cited in decision None
      Other reasons given for decision

      Judge Ward stated that he voted yes because of Mr. Mlinarchik’s testimony in favor of the project. Commissioner Jones agreed, stating, “As part of the old and the new commission, I took offense by some of the testimony,” adding that it’s “hard to trust someone who hasn’t done things that they will do something in the future.” Commissioner Moore agreed with the limitation of the extension to 60 days and she agreed with the concerns expressed. She voted to approve the extension on the strength of the community association’s support.

      Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed Under Article 2B section 10-503, the Board did not have the authority to grant a hardship extension to these licensees. See the “issues raised” section in the hearing above for 408 S High Street.

      1:00 p.m. cases

      New licenses

      Applicant Khalilah Courts
      Business Name The Art Room Development, Inc.
      Trading As The Art Room
      Address 529-31 Gay Street/Oldtown Mall
      Type of License Class “C” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
      Reason for hearing Application for a new Class “C” Beer, Wine & Liquor license under the provisions of Article 2B Section 6-301(a)(1)
      Hearing notes

      Mr. Milton Courts and Ms. Khalilah Courts (brother and sister) were present on their own behalf. They requested that the Board approve their new Class C license request in order to help them with their fundraising efforts. The Art Room is a nonprofit group of visual and performing artists, which seeks to revitalize the Old Town Mall area. They would like to run art programs for the elderly, including therapeutic art as well as to have a place for artists to meet and to do things for their community.

      Judge Ward pointed out that the Old Town Mall has been a problem spot, with significant drug trafficking and crime, for many years in the city of Baltimore. The applicants have listed no assets in their application. The Courts explained that they have $20,000 worth of art as their only asset. They pay $1000 per month in rent, not including utilities.

      Ward then noted that the state legislature has made an exception in the code for The Art Room. He asked, “tell us why you can be successful there when no one has been for 40-50 years.” Mr. Courts replied, “We are East Baltimore. Our members are products of Baltimore. I grew up through the school system. … We’ve been involved in the arts in Baltimore in 10 years; as a collective, for 100 years. We just want to do positive things for the community, sir.” Courts added that his organization will help beautify the area with outside events and murals.

      Courts elaborated on his organization’s concept. He told the Board that most new nonprofits or startup business fail within a couple years, and the biggest issue is funding. Having a Class C license will aid the group in funding the programs and paying rent and utilities for the building. Commissioner Moore asked, “will you be serving beer, wine, and liquor every day?” Courts replied, no, that the liquor license is “for the lodge.” Mr. Eric Smith, for the applicants, elaborated that the group plans to run a nonprofit, members only nonprofit lodge, which would not be open to the general public. They already have 75 members.

      Commissioner Jones noted that the Baltimore Development Corporation is currently working with merchants in that area and asked “have you guys contacted them yet?” Mr. Eric Smith replied that they had not contacted BDC and that there are no community associations in the area. Jones said, “I would suggest very strongly that you connect with the Baltimore Development Corporation. They have a vested interest in that area.” Jones asked, “where are your support letters from community folks?” The licensees did not have any letters from nearby residents. Ms. Bailey-Hedgepeth pulled out a letter of support from PNC Bank and The Art Room themselves, as well as one letter of support from a photographer associated with the grup.

      Commissioner Moore said, “I’m just extremely unready to support the application. I still don’t understand how the license would be used.” Mr. Courts attempted again to explain the mission of the organization, and Moore responded, “the mission is much appreciated. I looked at your articles of incorporation [link to articles of incorporation here] and they don’t match up with what you say you want to do with the liquor license, so that’s adding to my confusion and discomfort.” Mr. Courts explained that the organization is currently under a fiscal sponsorship through an organization called “Camp, Inc;” they request their one-day event licenses through this organization. [An SDAT search for "Camp, Inc." yielded only forfeited entities, though the name may be spelled differently and/or the organization could have a different corporate name.]

      Zoning B-2-2
      Neighborhood Oldtown
      Area demographics 5% White, 89% Black, 2% Asian; 2% Hispanic ethnicity; 33% households have children under age 18; median household income: $15,415; 47% households live below the poverty line
      Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
      Location of entity’s principal office 3816 Monterey Rd, Baltimore, MD
      Attorney for licensee None
      # in support 3
      Attorney for community None
      # of protestants 0
      # of inspectors 0
      Result of hearing Approved
      Vote tally 2-1 (Ward & Jones in favor, Moore opposed)
      Portions of state law cited in decision
      Other reasons given for decision

      Judge Ward stated that he voted yes, narrowly, because the group had legislative support in changing the law to accomodate their project. He is concerned that the organization has practically no assets, considering that everything else has failed in this location. He mentioned that, when he was a City Councilmember, he used to represent this area and that the community has tried many times to revitalize the mall and has failed.

      Jones agreed with Ward, adding “If you abuse it, you’ll see us again. That area needs a lot of help.”

      Moore voted no. She was not clear on the mission of the organization or how they planned to use their liquor license. Their mission as stated in the hearing, according to Moore, was not consistent with the organization’s articles of incorporation. Moore also noted that there was no evidence presented of a public need or desire for a Class C license in that neighborhood, and she was concerned about the community impact of a license.

      Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None.

      Transfers

      Applicant Seechun Rutah & Anna Rutah
      Business Name 3407 Hamilton Avenue, LLC
      Trading As Hamilton Quick Mart
      Address 3407 Hamilton Avenue
      Type of License Class “A” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
      Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership
      Hearing notes

      City Councilmember Curran submitted a letter of support to the Board in person. He testified that the applicant had come to him a year ago; Councilmember Curran told him to contact the Waltherson Improvement Association (WIA). WIA gave him approval. Mr. Rutah owns the property and, now, the business. He has been managing the day to day operation of the business for a while. This location has had a liquor license for a long time; it was the old Walthers Pharmacy. According to Councilmember Curran, there won’t be any impact on licensees in the area.

      Commissioner Jones joked, “how far is it from my house?” Commissioner Moore quipped, “more than 300 feet.”

      HARBEL and the Hamilton Business Association also submitted letters in support of the transfer.

      Zoning R-4
      Neighborhood Waltherson
      Area demographics 37% White, 55% Black, 1% Asian; 2% Hispanic ethnicity; 33% households have children under age 18; 5% households below poverty line; median household income: $57,951.01
      Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
      Location of entity’s principal office
      Attorney for licensee None
      # in support 3
      Attorney for community None
      # of protestants 0
      # of inspectors 0
      Result of hearing Approved
      Vote tally Unanimous
      Portions of state law cited in decision None
      Other reasons given for decision None
      Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
      Applicant Ignatius Onyejiaka
      Business Name Defaco Trns, Inc.
      Trading As Trade name pending
      Address 6014 Harford Road
      Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
      Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership & location of a Class “BD7” BWL license presently located at 6626 Harford Road to 6014 Harford Road, request for live entertainment & outdoor table service
      Hearing notes

      Mr. Mel Kodenski, attorney for the applicant, informed the Board that the application is for the transfer of ownership and location of an existing license. The applicant worked next door for seven years and is therefore familiar with the area. Kodenski submitted a letter of community support from Mr. Kelly, president of the Westfield Neighborhood Improvement Association (WNIA) as well as petitions with approximately eighty signatures of supporters.

      Zoning B-3-1
      Neighborhood Westfield
      Area demographics 37% White, 56% Black, 1% Asian; 2% Hispanic ethnicity; 33% households have children under age 18; median household income: $52,678.30
      Does corp entity exist, in good standing?
      Location of entity’s principal office
      Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
      # in support 2
      Attorney for community None
      # of protestants 0
      # of inspectors 0
      Result of hearing Approved
      Vote tally Unanimous
      Portions of state law cited in decision None
      Other reasons given for decision None
      Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
      Applicant Mary Bruce-Agbaje
      Business Name none provided in docket
      Trading As The Bridge Restaurant
      Address 3121 E. Monument Street
      Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
      Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership & location of a Class “BD7” BWL license presently located at 532-34 N. Montford Avenue to 3121 E. Monument Street, request for live entertainment
      Hearing notes

      Mr. Shawn Harby represented the applicant. He told the Board that he had just that afternoon learned that the community intended to protest the transfer of ownership and location. He said that his client is trying to move this license to a depressed area and that the proposed establishment will go into a block with many boarded and vacant buildings. The applicant had attempted to contact the Monroe Street Business Association and had received no reply. The association’s charter has been revoked. The applicant didn’t know that there is another community association that represents the area, so she didn’t have a chance to discuss her plans with them. He asked for a continuance so that his client could meet with the community association.

      Ms. Helen Vello, president of the Elwood Park Improvement Association for thirty-four years, was present to oppose the transfer. She and her group were unrepresented by counsel, but she was accompanied by Councilmember Warren Branch. Judge Ward asked Ms. Vello if she was of Czechoslovakian descent; she responded that she was not, and he explained that her neighborhood used to be all Czech, adding “we called them Bohemians in those days.” Ms. Vello continued with her testimony; she explained that her organization does not want any live entertainment in the area. Vello said, “our neighborhood has taken a hit. It’s something you could not imagine if you didn’t live there. We have an abundant amount of subsidized housing.” She said that the neighborhood used to be a community of “middle class working families” but that now the neighborhood has only 30% home ownership. She recounted problems with trash, rats, unsupervised juveniles, and drug dealers living in subsidized housing.

      Judge Ward clarified, “are you opposed to just live entertainment or everything?” Vello replied, “all of it.” She testified that there are several other bars and liquor stores in the area. Ward pointed out that Mr. Harvey has asked for the opportunity to work out his client’s differences with the community organization, asking Vello, “are you interested in that?” She replied, “no, sir. We try to prevent problems before they start.”

      Mr. Harby cross-examined Ms. Vello, asking “you’re saying that your entire community association agrees that this should remain a vacant building?” She replied, no, that if the applicant wants to run a restaurant, without a liquor license, that would be fine. Mr. Harby pointed out that the project will be a restaurant and lounge and asked “Is there any situation in which your association would allow my client to come and speak?” She said, “we’re against it; we can’t take any more problems in our neighborhood.” She also pointed out that there is no parking nearby. Harby then asked, “how many members are in your group?” Vello testified that the group has twenty members but that she did not have a list of them with her. She said that she had not had time to hold a meeting but that she had been in contact with all the members by phone.

      City Councilmember Warren Branch testified on his own behalf and on behalf of his brother, state Delegate Talmadge Branch, who represents the area in Annapolis. He testified that it is a “troublesome area” with a lot of crime, including several homicides. The applicant had not reached out to Councilmember Branch’s office; his staff could have given her a list of all of the community associations that she could contact. Branch testified that he had had to call the police about fighting in the area. He said that the neighborhood doesn’t need another liquor license, and that his office is opposed to any additional establishments in the area.

      Under questioning, Branch reiterated that his office supports the positions of the community associations. He said, “we respect the rights of the people who live in the community.” Mr. Harby pointed out that Ms. Vello had testified that there had not been a meeting. Commissioner Moore pointed out that the organization had been in touch by telephone, saying that it sounded to her as though there had been “ample conversation.”

      The applicant then testified: she has worked for Baltimore City public schools as a speech and language pathologist. Her mother-in-law owns the building and she would like to open a sit-down restaurant lounge, selling African and Caribbean food. She does not have experience in alcohol management, but she has some experience in food sales. The property was a carryout called Soul Haven in 2001 and had not had a problem in the community. She said that she will be retiring from her position as a speech and language pathologist, so she would be able to focus on the business and would be there every day.

      Zoning B-3-2
      Neighborhood Ellwood Park/Monument
      Area demographics 3% White, 90% Black, 1% Asian. 4% Hispanic ethnicity. 51% households have children under age 18. Median household income: $33,352.
      Does corp entity exist, in good standing? None provided in docket
      Location of entity’s principal office None provided in docket
      Attorney for licensee Mr. Shawn Harby
      # in support 1
      Attorney for community None
      # of protestants 2
      # of inspectors 0
      Result of hearing Denied
      Vote tally Unanimous
      Portions of state law cited in decision
      Other reasons given for decision

      Judge Ward voted to deny the transfer, because the area has a great number of existing establishments and the neighborhood is opposed. Commissioner Jones agreed and said that he saw no public need and desire for the transfer. Commissioner Moore also voted no, but she took a moment to address Ms. Vello’s blame of her neighborhood’s issues on section 8 vouchers and subsidized housing. Moore stated, “those are very valuable tools for community uplift. I bristle when I hear that simply because there’s a section 8 voucher, there is crime.” She stated that Ms. Vello’s community association has been in existence for a very long time and faulted the applicant for not having a conversation with the community group first, before asking for a hearing.

      Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
      Applicants Estifanos Habtegiorgis & Chong Sok Yang
      Business Name 2014 Pratt, Inc.
      Trading As Pratt Cut Rate Liquors
      Address 2014 W. Pratt Street
      Type of License Class ‘A” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
      Reason for hearing Application to transfer ownership
      Hearing notes

      Mr. Kodenski represented the applicants for the transfer of ownership. He stated that there was no community opposition to the transfer. Mr. Yang has been a licensee here for twenty-two years, since 1992. He owns the property and the business and will be training Mr. Habtegiorgis on how to run the business. Mr. Yang is the “city resident” and will stay on the license for two years. Once Mr. Habtegiorgis has owned the buiding for two years, he can be on license by himself. (Article 2B requires that at least one Baltimore City licensee own property in Baltimore City.) Mr. Habtegiorgis will be moving into the apartment above the bar; he will not be making any significant changes to the way that the business has been run for twenty-two years.

      Zoning B-3-2
      Neighborhood Carrollton Ridge
      Area demographics 17% White, 76% Black, 1% Asian; 4% Hispanic ethnicity; 36% households have children under age 18; median household income: $28,513.80; 30% households live below the poverty line
      Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
      Location of entity’s principal office 2014 W. Pratt St, Baltimore, MD 21223
      Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
      # in support 2
      Attorney for community None
      # of protestants 0
      # of inspectors 0
      Result of hearing Approved
      Vote tally 2-1: Ward & Jones yes; Moore no.
      Portions of state law cited in decision None
      Other reasons given for decision None
      Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None

      2:30 p.m. cases

      Violations

      Applicant Richard Davis
      Business Name Steel Drum Café, LLC
      Trading As Tilted Pig
      Address 771 Washington Boulevard
      Type of License Class “B” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
      Reason for hearing

      Violation of Rule 4.18: “No licensee shall commit or allow the commission on his premises of any act which shall be contrary to any federal, state or local statute, law or ordinance or against the public peace, safety, health, welfare, quiet or morals” (Re: On March 4 and March 11, 2014, Inspector found patrons dancing in the establishment)

      Violation of Rule 3.06: “Licensees shall operate their establishments at all times in accordance with the requirements of the Health Department of Baltimore City, the Building Code of Baltimore City and the rules and regulations of the Fire Department of Baltimore City” (Re: On March 4 and March 11, 2014 Inspector found establishment to be over the capacity limit determined by the Fire Department of Baltimore City)

      Hearing notes

      Mr. Abe Hurdle represented the licensee and his entity. He told the Board that Mr. Davis is in the hospital and could not attend the hearing, but other managers and employees were present.

      Baltimore City Liquor Board Inspector Jeff Ray testified that on March 4, 2014, there was a very large crowd on both floors. Ray became alarmed at the number of people that he saw, which he thought would be detrimental to public welfare and safety. Ray talked to the manager, Barry Henderson, and informed him of Ray’s concerns. Ray estimated that there were at least 150 people upstairs, and the fire department had issued a capacity for the building of 90 people. Mr. Hurdle objected to Mr. Ray’s estimate of headcount, arguing that it was no more than a guess. Ray also testified that the patrons were dancing, though the establishment did not have permission for live entertainment. Judge Ward asked, “what kind of dancing? Ballroom dancing? Gyrating?” Inspector Ray replied, “regular dancing.” In 2013, the establishment had also been in trouble with the Board for dancing and for overcrowding: to read the Booze News report from that hearing, click here.

      Inspector Ray said that he then called the police, who closed down the Tilted Pig for the evening. The management cooperated with Inspector Ray and the police.

      Mr. Hurdle then cross-examined Inspector Ray about why he did not count the people in the establishment. He also asked whether Ray was mistaken about the dancing, asking “is it possible that people were getting up to stretch a little bit?” to which Ray replied, “no.” Hurdle also objected to Ray’s submission of his inspection report for that day, because it wasn’t in the file earlier in the week. He said to the Board that it feels as though the report was withheld by the agency. Ward overruled the objection.

      Commissioner Jones then asked, “how many years have you worked at the LB?” Ray replied that he had worked there since 1984. He testified that he had worked with a task force that involved the health, fire, police and environmental control departments; overcrowding was one of the task force’s primary concerns. He testified that he has years of experience in determining whether or not an establishment is overcrowded.

      Mr. Henderson, the Tilted Pig manager on the night in question, then testified about his experience. The Tilted Pig’s capacity is 127 total, including staff members. The bar was quite full, because patrons were sneaking people in. His employees do an accurate count of people coming in and out of the bar. When it came to Mr. Henderson’s attention that there may be overcrowding, he increased security. Since the evening in question, he said that there had been no other issues. [Community members did attempt to protest the renewal of the license for the Tilted Pig in April but were foiled by the so-called "200-foot rule." To read the Booze News post for that hearing, click here.] He added that he knows that dancing is not allowed on the premises but stated that the Tilted Pig is a sports bar. “Occasionally, when people look at sports, and adrenaline gets flowing, they’re going to get up and move.”

      Upon further questioning by the commissioners, Ray testified that, in his recollection, there were 75 people downstairs and 160-170 people upstairs.

      In his concluding remarks, Hurdle argued that Ray had submitted “wildly ranging testimony.” He said that “testimony has varied throughout this hearing and is ever-increasing.” He pointed out again that the inspector did not take a head count.

      Zoning B-2-3
      Neighborhood Washington Village/Pigtown
      Area demographics The Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance (BNIA) did not have demographics available for Washington Village/Pigtown.
      Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; no.
      Location of entity’s principal office 771 Washington Blvd, Baltimore, MD
      Attorney for licensee Mr. Abraham Hurdle
      # in support ~5
      Attorney for community None
      # of protestants 0
      # of inspectors 1
      Result of hearing March 4: Dancing – guilty; Overcrowding – guilty. $1,000 fine (total). March 11: not guilty on both charges. No evidence presented.
      Vote tally Dancing – guilty (unanimous); Overcrowding – guilty (2-1, Moore dissenting).
      Portions of state law cited in decision None
      Other reasons given for decision

      Commissioner Moore noted that, as to the overcrowding, she did not believe the evidence presented to be persuasive, and she is troubled that there would be an inspector’s report that is not in the file. That is not how this Board should be operating.

      Hurdle requested that the licensees be permitted to “do something for the community” because “they want to give back and assist the community in some way.”

      Judge Ward told Mr. Hurdle that he was inclined to close the bar down. If they want to have dancing, they need to apply to the Board. This is the second time on the same violation: “Next time, nobody will be sympathetic.” Hurdle responded, “I have had some strong conversations with them about the establishment, and hopefully we’ll never be here again.”

      Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
      Applicant Sherry Hogan & Gerard Hogan
      Business Name V.J. V., Inc.
      Trading As Hogan’s Alley
      Address 1501 Covington Street
      Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
      Reason for hearing

      Violation of Rule 4.01(a): “No licensee shall sell or furnish alcoholic beverages to any person under twenty-one (21) years of age or to any person with the knowledge that such person is purchasing or acquiring such beverage for consumption by any person under twenty-one (21) years of age” (Re: alcoholic beverage sold to minor on May 30, 2013).

      Hearing notes

      The licensees were not present, but they were represented by their brother-in-law, who is a half owner in the business.

      Baltimore Police Detective L.C. Greenhill read from his report that on May 30, 2013, at 10:15pm, 18-year-old cadet Emily Neisser ordered a Coors Lite beer from bartender Bobby Jean Thayer. She paid for the beer using a marked $20 bill and received change. At no time did the bartender request proof of age.

      The representative of the licensee admitted responsibility for the violation and apologized that it happened. He said that the police did a good job and were very polite. The bartender was let go.

      Zoning B-2-2
      Neighborhood Riverside
      Area demographics 90% White, 3% Black, 3% Asian. 3% Hispanic ethnicity. 15% households have children under age 18. Median household income: $73,342. 8% households live below poverty line.
      Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; no.
      Location of entity’s principal office 1501 Covington St, Baltimore, MD
      Attorney for licensee None
      # in support 1
      Attorney for community N/A
      # of protestants N/A
      # of inspectors 0
      Result of hearing Guilty. $2,250 fine.
      Vote tally Unanimous.
      Portions of state law cited in decision None
      Other reasons given for decision

      Commissioner Jones, during deliberation, said to his fellow commissioners that he would impose a fine somewhere between $2,200 and $3,000. Moore replied, “I was thinking $750.” Ward pointed out that there was a previous violation for underage serving in March 2012. Jones explained, “I don’t like establishments that don’t do what they’re supposed to do. Underage drinking offends me. This young lady doesn’t look a day over thirteen to me. … $2,250 to me is nothing. We could close [the bar] down.” Moore agreed that the cadet looked very young, saying, “she shouldn’t have been allowed in the door or to sit at the bar.”

      Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None.
      Applicant Eduardo Reyes
      Business Name none provided in docket
      Trading As El Rancho Blanco
      Address 100 S. Fagley Street
      Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
      Reason for hearing Violation of Rule 3.12: “Licensees shall operate their establishments in such a manner as to avoid disturbing the peace, safety, health, quiet, and general welfare of the community.” (Re: February 23, 2014, police found that a firearm had been discharged inside establishment, patrons assaulted inside and outside of the establishment)
      Hearing notes

      Baltimore Police Officer Jacob Reed testified about the incident, by referring to his report. At 12:40am, he received a call for shots fired at the establishment. Before he went inside, he spoke with an eyewitness who told him that someone had just shot a couple rounds inside the bar. The witness pointed to the suspects, who were in a nearby parking lot. There were three Hispanic males beating up on another Hispanic male, kicking and hitting him. One of the three was holding a semiautomatic handgun. The suspects ran away; the suspect with the handgun was caught by Lieutenant Colburn nearby. The other two were also caught by police. The police then rendered aid to the person on the ground. Officer Reed then went into the bar and found shell casings on the floor by the pool table. He spoke to the staff through a translator, because none of them spoke English. The surveillance cameras for the establishment were not working at the time, so there was no footage to inspect. Through Officer Reed’s investigation, he found that there had been an altercation between three males (all cousins or brothers of one family) with two other males over a pool game. “People were being punks,” Officer Reed explained. Fernando Valenzuela, one of the three, shot into the floor; the others broke pool sticks and glassware.

      Officer Reed noted that the criminal trial began the following day for all three suspects. Reed stated that they have been charged with assault, and their charges may have been upgraded to attempted homicide. Maryland Judiciary Casesearch for this case shows that the Valenzuelas have been charged with: attempted second degree murder, first degree assault, second degree assault, carrying a dangerous weapon openly with intent to injure, unlawful use of a handgun in the commission of a felony or crime of violence, and three conspiracy charges. Their scheduled trial has been postponed again and is currently scheduled for August 25, 2014.

      Officer Reed said that he found a working metal detector wand sitting inside the building on one of the window ledges. The gun was retrieved outside the bar, thrown in a corner near a parking lot. There were two spent casings inside the bar, two live rounds in the chamber of the gun, and three more rounds in the magazine.

      Mr. Eduardo Reyes, the licensee, was present, with his friend and translator, Mr. Ricardo Elias. Through Mr. Elias, Mr. Reyes testified that he lives in Dundalk, Maryland and has owned the bar since 2006. He said that he did know the Valenzuelas but that they were not regular customers. They come to the bar two or three times a week, but he does not know them personally and has never had trouble with them before. His security camera system had been down for a week before the incident, because his repairman was out of town. Mr. Reyes said that, from his understanding, the firearm was brought in by a woman. He only had male security guards, who were not allowed to search women, but now he has female security. Judge Ward was confused by this testimony and said that with a metal detector wand, it is not necessary to touch the patrons, so he was unclear why Mr. Reyes would need female security guards.

      Mr. Kevin Bernhard, from the Highlandtown Community Association (HCA) testified about the history of the establishment. He said that there was another shooting inside the premises in July 2012, which was never heard by the Board. There was an assault on the door security guard in December 2013. The establishment also had a violation recently for keeping five-gallon propane tanks inside the building, and the Board will hold a hearing on that violation soon. There was a stabbing also on May 3, 2014, outside the bar. He asked, on behalf of HCA, for a revocation of the license.

      Zoning B-3-2
      Neighborhood Baltimore Highlands
      Area demographics 52% White, 12% Black, 3% Asian, 2% 2 or more races, 30% Hispanic ethnicity, 30% households have children under age 18; Median Household Income: $39,874.02; 18% households live below the poverty line.
      Does corp entity exist, in good standing? None provided in docket
      Location of entity’s principal office None provided in docket
      Attorney for licensee None
      # in support 2
      Attorney for community None
      # of protestants 2
      # of inspectors 0
      Result of hearing Guilty. 4 month suspension.
      Vote tally Unanimous
      Portions of state law cited in decision None
      Other reasons given for decision

      Judge Ward stated, “a license is a privilege, to be regulated and strictly watched, not a right.” He noted that the security system wasn’t working, in spite of the fact that the bar has a violent history. He also stated that a bar is always responsible for the conduct of the people who come in and purchase its goods. “So in this particular case, we have customers coming in and acting in a violent manner, who have been there before, who he’s had a chance to observe, shooting into the floor, and engaging in a violent manner. A bar owner is responsible for policing his own establishment.”

      Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None
      Applicant Steven Kougl
      Business Name Kougl, Inc.
      Trading As Club Harem
      Address 425 E. Baltimore Street
      Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License, Adult Entertainment License
      Reason for hearing

      Violation of Rule 4.17(a): “No licensee shall permit or suffer his premises to be used for the purpose of any sexual activity, nor shall any licensee permit or suffer any employee, patron or frequenter to solicit any person for prostitution or other immoral purposes. (Re: April 25, 2013, dancer solicited undercover police officer for sexual intercourse)

      Violation of Rule 4.17(b): “No licensee shall permit or suffer any person to appear in any act or other performance with breasts or the lower torso uncovered; not shall any licensee knowingly permit or suffer his premises to be used for the conduct, exhibition or performance of an obscene act or other performance” (Re: April 25, 2013, dancer exposed herself to undercover police officer)

      Violation of Rule 4.18: “No licensee shall commit or allow the commission on his premises of any act which shall be contrary to any federal, state or local statue, law or ordinance or against the public peace, safety, health, welfare, quiet or morals.” (Re: April 25, 2013, dancer solicited undercover police officer for sexual intercourse; dancer exposed herself to undercover police officer)

      Violation of Rule 4.17(a): “No licensee shall permit or suffer his premises to be used for the purpose of any sexual activity, nor shall any licensee permit or suffer any employee, patron or frequenter to solicit any person for prostitution or other immoral purposes.” (Re: November 11, 2013, dancer solicited police officer for sexual intercourse)

      Hearing notes

      Baltimore Police Detective Fletcher Jackson testified that he had been involved in a prostitution investigation at 425 E. Baltimore St. When he entered the establishment, he spoke with dancer named Jamaica Brickhouse. He testified that she exposed herself to him and told him, “we can go up to the VIP and do whatever up there.” She quoted him a price of $170 for the room and added that she gets a tip for whatever she does. He asked her how much the “tip” would be, and she said “$100.” Ms. Brickhouse was not arrested at the time but was issued a criminal summons later. She was not prosecuted for the offence.

      Mr. Kodenski asked the officer whether he had seen or talked to the licensee at any time. Jackson said no. Kodenski then asked if Jackson had given any money to Ms. Brickhouse, and he replied no, adding “after we conversated, she had to go up on stage and perform.” Kodenski also noted that the police report for the incident was not signed, and Jackson responded that he had signed his official copy.

      Mr. Kodenski then said that the illegal act was never completed, that Jackson never gave Ms. Brickhouse any money, and that when Jackson left, Ms. Brickhouse remained at the club. Based on the testimony above, Kodenski made a motion to dismiss the charges. He read from Rule 4.17(b) that “no licensee shall permit or suffer his premises” to be used for illegal purposes. He pointed out that the language in the rule (“his premises”) was “sexist” but he also argued that the licensee “can’t permit or suffer your premises to be used if [he doesn't] know about it.” Judge Ward denied his motion and replied that bar owners are responsible for their employees and the activities that occur inside the premises. He also told Kodenski that a criminal summons is equivalent to an arrest.

      The licensee then testified that he has been the owner of the establishment since 1998. He had no knowledge of the event: no police officers or managers told him about it. The licensee has nine security cameras, and he would have checked them to corroborate the detective’s testimony, but the cameras are on a monthly loop and were taped over by the time he heard of the allegations. He testified that he does not allow or permit any person to solicit for prostitution at his establishment and he also said that he does not have a VIP or special room.

      Commissioner Moore asked, “does Ms. Brickhouse still work for you?” The licensee replied no, that she had left about two or three weeks after the incident. He didn’t know why she left, stating “they come and they go.”

      Kodenski renewed his motion to dismiss the charges, adding, “the shame of the matter is, if you’re on the street, how many times does a police officer let that person go? They lock them up on the spot. In this case, it’s a great disservice to the licensee, when they have cameras set up for that exact purpose. We can’t verify the testimony when you come in eight months later. The last person standing here is the licensee who has no knowledge.” Kodenski said that he could not recommend a punishment for the violation, because the licensee “has suffered enough to be here.”

      Zoning B-5-2
      Neighborhood Downtown
      Area demographics 39% White, 37% Black, 16% Asian, 3% 2 or more races; 5% Hispanic ethnicity; 9% of households have children under age 18; Median Household Income: $38,146; 18% households live below poverty line
      Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
      Location of entity’s principal office 425 E. Baltimore St, Baltimore, MD
      Attorney for licensee Mr. Melvin Kodenski
      # in support 1
      Attorney for community N/A
      # of protestants 1
      # of inspectors 0
      Result of hearing Guilty. License suspended for one month.
      Vote tally 2-1 (Ward & Jones in favor; Moore opposed)
      Portions of state law cited in decision None
      Other reasons given for decision

      Commissioner Jones said, “it’s clear to me that this thing took place.” Moore replied, “I disagree. I don’t think that the evidence substantiates the charges.” She was concerned that there was a lapse of eight months between the event and the issuance of the charges. She said that she thinks it is extraordinary, unusual, not an acceptable practice, and argues against a finding of guilt.

      Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None

      3:30 p.m. cases

      Violations-Comptroller Cases

      Licensees Ki Suk Kim, Myung Ja Nam & Ok Suk Kim
      Business Name Ki S. Kim, Inc.
      Trading As Irvington Cut Rate Liquors
      Address 4100 Frederick Avenue
      Type of License Class “A” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
      Reason for hearing

      Violation of Rule 4.10(a): “No licensee shall purchase alcoholic beverages except from a duly licensed manufacturer or wholesaler; nor shall any licensee sell to any other licensee any alcoholic beverages; and no licensee shall, at any time, keep or permit to be
      kept upon the licensed premises, any alcoholic beverages unless purchased in accordance with the Rule” (Re: On April 3, 2014, Agents from the Office of the Comptroller found a bottle of alcohol in the establishment identified as having come from a stolen alcohol shipment)

      Hearing notes

      Agent David Hollingsworth for the Comptroller of Maryland’s field enforcement division testified first. He was doing a regular retail liquor inspection of the establishment and met with the store manager, Mr. Yoon Park. Mr. Hollingsworth found one unopened bottle of Hennessy cognac that was from a stolen shipment, which he determined from the bottle’s lot number. Hollingsworth returned to the store on April 8, 2014, and another licensee, Ms. Kim, told him that a black male had exchanged the Hennessy cognac for a smaller bottle; since the bottle was unopened and not tampered with, Ms. Kim had agreed to the return. She refunded the “customer” the difference in price between the returned stolen bottle (about $5 or $6) and the smaller bottle that he wanted.

      Attorney for the licensees, Mr. David Silbiger, moved for dismissal of the charge, because there was no evidence presented that the licensees had purchased their wares from an unauthorized wholesaler. Rather, this was merely a single incident of a return of a bottle. The Board denied Silbiger’s motion.

      Ms. Ok Kim then testified that the day in question was a slow day, and she didn’t want to give any trouble to the customer, so she exchanged the larger bottle for a smaller one without a receipt.

      Zoning B-2-2
      Neighborhood Irvington
      Area demographics 8% White, 88% Black, 0% Asian; 1% Hispanic ethnicity; 36% households have children under age 18; 19% households live under the poverty line; median household income: $33,504.32
      Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
      Location of entity’s principal office 4100 Frederick Ave, Baltimore, MD
      Attorney for licensee David Silbiger
      # in support 2
      Attorney for community N/A
      # of protestants 0
      # of inspectors 1
      Result of hearing Guilty. $1,000 fine.
      Vote tally Unanimous
      Portions of state law cited in decision None
      Other reasons given for decision

      Judge Ward reiterated that bar owners are responsible for their own conduct and the conduct of the people in the bar. The licensees were not supposed to be buying or exchanging alcohol from anyone except licensed dealers, under the law. He noted, “I recognize the fact that there is only one bottle, but it comes from a hijacked truck. Little crimes can make big ones.”

      Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed Nne
      Applicant Soo Mi Kang
      Business Name K & S Enterprise, Inc.
      Trading As Frederick Station Saloon
      Address 4019 Frederick Avenue
      Type of License Class “BD7” Beer, Wine & Liquor License
      Reason for hearing

      Violation of Rule 4.10(a): “No licensee shall purchase alcoholic beverages except from a duly licensed manufacturer or wholesaler; nor shall any licensee sell to any other licensee any alcoholic beverages; and no licensee shall, at any time, keep or permit to be kept upon the licensed premises, any alcoholic beverages unless purchased in accordance with the Rule” (Re: On April 3, 2014, Agents from the Office of the Comptroller found a bottle of alcohol in the establishment identified as having come from a stolen alcohol shipment)

      Hearing notes

      Agent David Hollingsworth of the Comptroller’s Office testified again that he was conducting a routine alcohol inspection and, again, found a single bottle of Hennessy cognac on the shelf which matched the lot number of stolen shipment. The licensee told him at the time that he did not know how he obtained the bottle and that he could not even purchase that size from the wholesaler.

      Mr. Kang, the licensee, represented himself before the Board. He asked his employee what happened, and they told him that one customer had come into the store asking for a refund on the bottle. He was making chaos in the store, and the employees had no choice but to give him the money back. He told the Board that the store in the previous case was only 100 feet from his store, so it was likely the same person.

      Commissioner Moore asked, “was this bottle returned with a receipt or without a receipt?” Kang replied, “we usually don’t give out receipts unless [customers] ask for it.” Mr. Kang had heard that the Hennessy was missing at the time, but he had not warned or instructed his employees about it.

      Zoning B-2-2
      Neighborhood Irvington
      Area demographics 8% White, 88% Black, 0% Asian; 1% Hispanic ethnicity; 36% households have children under age 18; 19% households live under the poverty line; median household income: $33,504.32
      Does corp entity exist, in good standing? Yes; yes.
      Location of entity’s principal office 4019 Frederick Ave, Baltimore, MD
      Attorney for licensee None
      # in support 1
      Attorney for community None
      # of protestants 0
      # of inspectors 1
      Result of hearing Guilty. $1,500 fine.
      Vote tally Unanimous.
      Portions of state law cited in decision None.
      Other reasons given for decision

      The Board raised the fine from $1,000 to $1,500, because of two unrelated previous violations.

      After the Judge Ward had given his opinion (that the licensee was guilty of a violation), Mr. Kang attempted to blame the violation on his employees’ lack of knowledge. Commissioner Jones interrupted Kang and said, “training. It’s called training.” Kang explained that sometimes people bang on the door and are disruptive. Jones instructed him to call 911.

      Commissioner Moore agreed with Jones and Ward and suggested to Mr. Kang that he issue a new policy of no returns without a receipt. Mr. Kang immediately responded that he could never institute such a policy: “it would be chaos in Baltimore City.” He added that if employees call 911, the disruptive customers run out of the store and come back later. “It’s a pretty hectic environment,” he said, which is why he told his employees that if someone is causing a problem, they shouldn’t fight with them but should just give them their money back.

      Issues raised in audit present in this case or other issues observed None

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